Into the Water

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

What looks like an accidental drowning might actually be a suicide. Told in alternating voices, this suspense-saturated drama is Hawkins’ second novel. 

If you missed it the first time around, like I did, your library probably has plenty of copies.

Nel isn’t very well liked in her small community. Even her sister bears a grudge against her. The community resents that she’s writing a book about the witchcraft trials and other historical events that took place in Beckford. 

Nel chooses to write not only about the historical deaths by drowning but also the more recent drownings. This infuriates Louise, the mother of a girl who recently committed suicide in the pool. 

Soon afterward Katie’s death, Nel also drowns in the drowning pool. Some family members think she has killed herself but others suspect something more sinister.

Among the suspects, there is a jealous sister, a handsome male teacher, a dangerous ex-boyfriend, an outraged mother, and a cantankerous cop.

Nel’s teenaged daughter is also in danger, leaving readers to wonder if she will suffer the same fate as her mother and all the other “troublesome” women. 

Though some have said they enjoyed this book less, its actually more enjoyable than The Girl on the Train. Into the Water is multi-faceted and surprising, thought-provoking and riveting. 

What is a lyric essay?

Lyric essay

A Family of Strangers by Deborah Tall

A lyric essay is a cross between an essay and a lyric poem. In “Knit One,”  Suzanne Cody writes in Eastern Iowa Review about a woman’s sorrow and dejection by using the metaphor of knitting:

“Sorrow ravels the sweater from the bottom–a slow, slow process. He appears to think the young woman doesn’t notice. But she does. He may well know this, but likes to pretend.” 

Their relationship is becoming unraveled just like the sweater:

“If you don’t make time for this, eventually the pulling will go faster than the stitching and there will be nothing left between you and me but a pile of tangled wool”

The term lyric essay was invented by the late Deborah Tall, a professor at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. Tall wrote A Family in Strangers in which she employed the lyric essay, a form she has been obsessed with for thirty years. 


Combining coding with music

If your students like music and coding, there are great new ways to combine both interests.

Tutorial–composing Music

Made with Code’s Music Mixer

The Music Mixer from Made with Code is possibly the simplest way to play with code and virtual musical instruments.

Made with Code’s Mentor Video (Ebony Oshunrinde)

DiscoverE Engineering

Sound Proof Box activity.


While this isn’t free, it gives students and coding clubs the opportunity to create songs.


Use python or javascript to mix music in a DAW. Free.

Gone Without a Trace by Mary Torjussen.


Hannah’s life is upended when her boyfriend Matt disappears. Hannah lives in the Wirral peninsula and is on the fast track for promotion at the company where she works.

Matt doesn’t just disappear. He obliterates his presence by taking every single item he owns from her apartment and deleting every photo and text from her computer and phone. 

A quick call to the architectural firm where Matt worked establishes the fact that he no longer works there. His mother has also changed residences. No one can give Hannah any answers. Worst of all, she has been receiving strange text messages and believes someone has been entering her house without her permission. When she goes for a jog, someone films her, and then sends the video to her phone.

While this tense-filled situation has no easy explanation, several characters are suspect. Katie, Hannah’s best friend, has always been insanely competitive with Hannah. Her next door neighbors, members of the neighborhood watch, are seriously creepy. Her co-worker seems to be on her side but he also seems deceitful.

 Given how shady her close associations are, any one of these characters could be gas lighting Hannah. Matt has always seen supportive but maybe she’s seeing a side of Matt she never knew existed?

Torjussen gives her character an intriguing puzzle to decipher. The reader gets a jolt when a surprising twist is thrown in to the mix. A thrilling, yet well-developed novel with a unexpected conclusion. 

The Tuscan Child by Rhys Bowen.

The Tuscan Child by Rhys Bowen

Bowen’s historical novel, The Tuscan Child, is a gratifying read. 

The Tuscan Child by Rhys Bowen

Joanna and her father, Sir Hugo, couldn’t be more different. After his death, Joanna is startled to find a love letter to a woman in Italy. 

Intrigued, Joanna goes to San Salvatore in Italy, to discover more about her father’s life. She knew he had crashed while serving in World War II but she had not known the exact location, San Salvatore, a hill town in Tuscany.

Though there are no hotels in San Salvatore, Joanna finds a comfortable place to stay. She feels at home with Paola’s family until a strange event occurs. Someone has drowned one of the local men in the well near Joanna’s rented room.

Police think Joanna, a foreigner, is suspicious, even though she insists she has nothing to do with the man’s murder.

Renzo, the son of a rich landowner in San Salvatore, has a connection to her father and the woman he names in the letter, Sofia Bartoli. Is he the “beautiful boy” her father mentions in the same letter?

The novel takes many twists and turns and Joanna learns what’s true and what’s false. 

At the Corpus Christi festival she beings to see Renzo in a new light.  Though she does not trust Renzo, something is drawing her and him together.

This is a charming World War II story with light intrigue and light romance.

The City of Lost Fortunes by Bryan Camp.

Jude hasn’t practiced magic in six years, He is unnerved, however, when, during a poker game with other magical beings, his powers are stolen from him.

Jude, a demi-god known for his talent for finding lost things, has been struggling with his powers after Hurricane Katrina. 

Since the storm his “gift” has been out of control. He tells his Regal how the storm affected his abilities:

“I don’t know if it had to do with how much got lost, or if it was me, or what. But I felt everything…I couldn’t stand being around people without a way to shut it out.”

Thus, after the storm, Jude doesn’t practice magic for six years.

One night, however, during a poker game with other magical beings, things begin to radically change.

At the poker game, something valuable is taken from him that makes Jude reconsider his ban on magic.

His ex-boss, Mourning, gives him an assignment–to find out who murdered the fortune god–but Jude is loath to comply.  

He needs to use everything in his magical bag of tricks to keep up with the machinations of the voodoo gods, vampires, and zombies that threaten him. 

This is a fast-paced supernatural thriller with a wonderful literary creation, Jude Dubisson, at helm. 

National Small Business Week–May 5-May 11, 2019


This year National Small Business Week is May 5 through May 11. For public libraries, it’s the perfect time to promote small business books or small business resources e.g. databases.

National Small Business Week

Public libraries are a hidden resource when it comes to small business. Most small business owners do not realize what treasures they can find at their local library.

Here are some titles that can help small business owners find winning solutions:

Artun, Omer. Predictive Marketing.

Aspan, Maria. Startup Money Made Easy.

Brown, Brene. Dare to Lead.

Hamm, Jon. Unusually Excellent: The Necessary Nine Skills (eAudiobook)

Morten, Hansen. Great at Work: How Top Performers Do Less.

Nelson, Stephen. Quickbooks 2019.

Paul, Jarvis. Company of One: Why Staying Small is the Next Biggest Thing.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

A beautiful allegorical story about a young person’s journey from grief to acceptance. Connor has two nightmares that bother him. One comes in the shape of walking yew tree that something visits at 12:07AM. The other monster that is more real and frightening he cannot even describe. He calls it his “nightmare.”

Connor has many troubles: his mother his dying, his father has a new family and has moved to America, his Grandmother who wants to adopt him is obtuse and annoying.

Conor would give anything for his mother to live, even befriend a yew-tree monster who claims he can cure every human ailment.

What’s best about this novel is how psychologically astute the writing is. Conor is isolated and so he feels “invisible.” He asks the yew tree how he helped another invisible being but ends up getting into a physical fight with a boy that has bullied him.

The monster tells stories to help the boy understand psychological truths:

There was once an invisible man, the monster continued, though Conor kept his eyes firmly on Harry, who had grown tried of being unseen…It was not that he was actually invisible, the monster said, following Conor….It was that people had become used to not seeing him.”

Conor learns, however, that there are “harder things being invisible.” At his worst, Conor learns, “They all saw him now. But he was further away than ever.”

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms

Panned by critics, this is actually a wonderful, inspiring film. A steampunk version, the foe uses automatons created by a giant engine.

Several moments stand out in this film. The moment Clara realizes the sugar plum fairy is not as sugary sweet as she appears. The moment Clara realizes the only one who can save the four realms is herself. She happens to be staring at a mirror and her mother’s words comes back to her.

The film is a feminist victory. The young girl’s bravery and intelligence save the kingdom which is rarely seen in most films.

Mackenzie Foy, Keira Knightley, and Helen Mirren give great performances here.

Anything is Possible

“Anything is Possible,” is the last line of the last story in this remarkable collection. The collection is as much as it about miracles as it is about family secrets and hidden shame.

Anything is Possible

Abel of the short story “Gift,” feels shame that he and his sister Dottie used to eat out of dumpsters as children. Though he has worked hard and grown rich, Abel has never gotten over the sorrow and loneliness of his childhood.

When he watches “A Christmas Carol” with his family, though, a strange thing happens. When his granddaughter forgets her toy at the theater, it gives him the opportunity to make a friend for the first time in his life.

Lucy Barton who was featured in Strout’s My Name is Lucy Barton makes an appearance here as well in the short story “Sister.” Lucy has a panic disorder that stems from her childhood. None of the Amgash residents, including Vicky, her sister, know about this.

The residents view Lucy as one of the few who left Amgash unscathed. They talk about Lucy in amazed tones for she is the only one who seems to have triumphed over her impoverished childhood.

Tommy’s reaction is typical:

“Lucy, Lucy, Lucy B. Where did you go to, how did you flee?

One of the pretty Nicely girls, Patty, is particularly drawn to Lucy’s story.